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Twenty-four years ago this month, Soviet hard-liners, desperate to stop the country's nascent democratic transition, arrested Mikhail Gorbachev and declared martial law.It is a growing threat not only to democracy, but also to global stability.One cause for this shift toward authoritarianism is that many countries no longer view the United States as a beacon of democracy and a model of stability and prosperity to be emulated. Given the reach of today's mass media and social networks, only a few people must be targeted to cow the rest of society into conforming to the leader's vision.Many wanted a Western lifestyle, with access to the kinds of jobs and goods available in the U.S., but seemed not to recognize that access to that lifestyle requires increased economic and personal freedom – precisely the kind of freedom that underpins democratic societies.The better option would be to work on the countries' leaders.
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